On May 30, 2006, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted a historic proposal to empower the Nepali women. Two most significant decisions emanated from the motion: Firstly, it paved the way for the government to issue citizenship certificate to a child on his/her mother’s name, and secondly, it guaranteed proportionate representation for women at all levels of governance. As per the proposal, there would be 33 per cent job reservation in the public offices. Unfortunately, however, women are yet to be given due recognition, especially in terms of decision-making.
The women politicians of the eight political parties are now grumbling that the interim parliament has failed to offer them proper representation and have thus joined hands to fight for their cause. That is a legitimate step because only with a united voice things can be made to happen. But there is an inherent problem in this so-called struggle for equality: It seems more for reservation than for the real resolution of the problems facing the women community and other marginalised groups. Reservation is not the sole device to uplift the weaker sections of the society. It is merely a means. The real focus should be on affirmative actions that can help the poor and the neglected overcome their current despair. Education, for instance, is one such way to empower women in the true sense of the term. It would be more rewarding if the groups concerned lobby vigorously for something like free education for the oppressed instead of crying hoarse all the time over reservation of this or that kind. This year’s Women’s Day (March 8) message must necessarily be on this particular line.